Driving innovation forward: Unveiling the West of England Local Action Plan

Innovate UK and the West of England Mayoral Combined Authority formalise their Innovation collaboration with a new co-created West of England Local Action Plan.

Posted on: 27/02/2024

Indro Mukerjee, CEO of Innovate UK, and Dan Norris, Metro Mayor for the West of England launch the West of England Action Plan

This plan marks a significant step forward in our ongoing partnership, aimed at providing strategic initiatives and targeted support to SMEs and innovators across the West of England. This is the seventh Innovate UK Local Action Plan for the UK, and all the published plans are available to view and download.

Launched yesterday (26 February) at the Innovate UK Catapult – National Composites Centre in Bristol, the Local Action Plan underscores Innovate UK’s commitment to nurturing innovation in places and addressing specific challenges for businesses in the West of England.

The region boasts a rich history of innovation, particularly in aerospace and advanced manufacturing, with emerging strengths in immersive creative and digital technologies, AI, and deep tech. By combining our efforts to promote innovation in these areas, we aim to enable businesses and individuals to participate in significant investments, driving change on a national and global scale while crucially advancing regional ambitions to benefit residents.

Innovate UK is already investing significantly into the West of England with programmes benefitting the creative technology industries, such as the UKRI-funded Strength in Places MyWord, delivered in partnership with Research England and Creative Catalyst. Regional businesses are also benefitting from funding to accelerate the delivery of the transition to net zero via our Net Zero Living programme. We are supporting local advanced manufacturing through initiatives such as the ATI programme delivered in partnership with the Department for Business and Trade – to name but a few.

As key enablers of economic growth in the region, supporting the region’s pipeline of skills and talent is a shared commitment from both Innovate UK and the Combined Authority. This commitment seeks to give confidence to businesses to invest in their innovation capabilities, commercialise research and attract inward investment from across the UK and overseas.

This Local Action Plan is the result of our well-developed relationship and synergy with the Combined Authority, laying the framework for future collaborative partnerships, enhancing the region’s innovation clusters, and ensuring more people have access to innovation opportunities.

Designed to be adaptable and responsive, the plan will evolve over the next three years, responding to local needs. It promotes collaboration with the Combined Authority and local stakeholders across three key areas:

 Strategic partnerships

  • Encouraging more investment into the region from national agencies and partners.
  • Maintaining Innovate UK services in the West of England, enabled by a connected innovation network.
  • Providing strategic insight and guidance through strategic forums and working groups.

Innovation support

  • Focusing services and programmes on key regional clusters to support growth.
  • Developing proactive campaigns to attract new businesses to the region.
  • Promoting research, innovation, and business support opportunities to a wide range of communities to foster inclusivity via No Limits.

Communication and engagement

  • Collaborating on joint communications to support the action plan.
  • Working with local partners to create and host local innovation events.
  • Maximising the visibility of programmes through the new Innovate UK Innovation Hub to maximise regional reach.

Indro Mukerjee, CEO of Innovate UK said:

We’re pleased to launch the West of England Local Action Plan, co-created with the West of England Mayoral Combined Authority, aimed at stimulating and supporting innovation throughout the region.

As the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK works to build strong regional partnerships across the UK to enable innovation and businesses growth, and this is another action for us.

This plan builds on our existing strong partnership, with the goal of tackling local challenges, connecting growth opportunities across the UK, and propelling the West of England as hub of innovation.

Dan Norris, Metro Mayor for the West of England, added:

Our region has always been one of innovation and imagination – from Brunel who ‘built the world’, to Caroline Herschel, the first salaried female scientist. We are home to Concorde, built in Filton, and we created the world’s first commercial hollow chocolate Easter egg we all know and love.

Today, the West is one of the leading regions for cutting-edge research and innovation. As Mayor, it is part of my role to bring more resources for new technologies, such as AI, hydrogen research and quantum where the West leads.

Working in collaboration with Innovate UK will put rocket boosters under my plans to further support the innovators based in our amazing region.

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